Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1784

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1784

Henrich Miller


A printer, journalist, bookseller, and translator who had traveled much of the eighteenth-century Atlantic world before beginning his publishing business in Philadelphia in the early 1760s, Henrich Miller counteracted ethnic isolationism among German immigrants and ensured their investment and enfranchisement in the emerging public sphere of early national America. From his ardent rejection of the Stamp Act to his enthusiastic support of American Independence, Miller did not merely witness and report the momentous political, civic, and cultural changes occurring in North America, but he actively shaped and participated in these events.


On July 5, 1776, Henrich Miller’s (born March 1702 in Rhoden, Principality of Waldeck; died March 31, 1782 in Bethlehem, PA) newspaper, Der Wöchentliche Pennsylvanischer Staatsbote, was the first paper — in any language — to announce the signing of the Declaration of Independence: “Philadelphia, den 5 July. Gestern hat der Achtbare Congreβ dieses Vesten Landes die Vereinigten Colonien Freye und Unabhängige Staaten erkläret. Die Declaration in Englisch ist jetzt in der Presse; sie ist datiert, den 4ten July, 1776, und wird heut oder morgen im druck erscheinen.”[1] From his ardent rejection of the Stamp Act to his enthusiastic support of American Independence, Henrich Miller, as he called himself on the cover of his newspaper, did not merely witness and report the momentous political, civic, and cultural changes occurring in North America, but he actively shaped and participated in these events. A printer, journalist, bookseller, and translator who had traveled much of the eighteenth-century Atlantic world before beginning his publishing business in Philadelphia in the early 1760s, Miller counteracted ethnic isolationism among German immigrants and ensured their investment and enfranchisement in the emerging public sphere of early national America. While primarily secular in his political outlook and print publications, Miller was nevertheless a devoutly religious man with close ties to the Moravian Church. Though called “eccentric” by later historians, Miller was staunchly independent in his personal, religious, and entrepreneurial decisions. His business helped develop the notion of a free press as the foundation of modern democracy and citizenship.[2]

Family and Ethnic Background

Miller was born Johann Heinrich Müller in the town of Rhoden in the small but independent principality of Waldeck (today part of the German state of Hessen) in early March 1702 and was baptized on March 12, 1702.[3] Miller was the son of Anna Maria (née Faust) Müller from an old Rhoden family and Johann Heinrich (or Henrich) Müller, a journeyman mason from Altstädten, close to Zürich, Switzerland; they had married in Rhoden on November 19, 1690.[4] The elder Müller had most likely migrated to Waldeck in search of employment. It is unclear, however, why the family moved to the father’s hometown in Switzerland at the end of May 1715. Perhaps he longed to return to his native Switzerland. His son Henrich noted in his diary that the family moved to his father’s “Heimath” (variously translated as home, homeland, or home town), a peculiarly German-language term connoting a host of emotions and associations ranging from the safety and nostalgia connected to family and childhood to larger cultural, regional, ethnic, and (later in German history) even nationalist feelings.[5] One can only speculate whether Miller’s early removal from his own birthplace (he was thirteen at the time) created a sense of uprootedness and precipitated his later peripatetic lifestyle. While neither his diary nor his published writings (such as his newspaper editorials) reveal any sentimental attachment to the principality of Waldeck in Germany or Altstädten in Switzerland, Miller occasionally turned toward the history of the Swiss Confederation (especially its hero Wilhelm Tell) as a model for the American struggle for freedom; his native Germany, at best, furnished examples of the absolutist rule that early Americans strove to leave behind.[6]

Miller did not stay long in Altstädten; in the fall of 1715, his parents sent him to the Swiss city of Basel to learn the printer’s trade from Johann Ludwig Brandmüller.[7] His master’s connection to a prestigious bookselling dynasty also allowed Miller to learn the book trade in the cultural crossroads of Basel — a city near the borders of the German kingdom of Württemberg, France, and Switzerland. This multilingual environment probably inculcated in Miller the benefit of linguistic skills for the publishing business, which, decades later, served him well in the pluralistic setting of colonial Philadelphia. After concluding his apprenticeship in 1721, Miller moved briefly to Zürich to work as a journeyman printer.[8] For unknown reasons, Miller did not remain in this position long, for in the fall of the same year, he started one of his extended periods of travel throughout Europe. Between 1721 and 1733, Miller traveled to and lived in Leipzig, Hamburg-Altona, London, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Geneva.[9] Journeymen of various trades traveled frequently during this period in order to gain new skills, perfect their craft, and experience different parts of the world before settling down in a certain location. Strict regulations by trade guilds, moreover, made it difficult for journeymen to establish their own businesses and thus forced many of them to live in a permanent state of traveling in search for employment.

Yet Miller’s Wanderlust also had a deeper, spiritual dimension. Following his father’s Reformed religion while living in Switzerland, Miller experienced some kind of a conversion experience during the Lord’s Supper (Communion) in the fall of 1716. Throughout much of his life, his quest for religious enlightenment and greater piety went hand in hand with the development of his trade and eventual establishment of his business in Philadelphia. Religious impulses and relationships often led Miller to relocate, opening up some business opportunities and closing others. Yet, while religion frequently served as the trigger for his life choices, Miller’s career as a printer, publisher, and journalist reveals his even greater desire to serve a larger, more encompassing civic purpose that included, but was not limited by, his faith.

For the first time, Miller played with the idea of relocating to America in 1728, when he “intended to go to America as a hermit, but the LORD was not pleased by it.”[10] In the short-run, Miller followed his filial obligation to tend to his aging parents. Thus, in 1733, he returned to the Zürich area to “stay with [his] parents as long as they lived.”[11] After his mother’s death in 1736, Miller fell out with his father over his decision to remarry at the age of 80.[12] Miller traveled via Tübingen back to Hamburg, where he resolved his indecision over his desire to go to America by casting the lot (typically done with bones or stones in order to decide a yes-no question by putting the matter in God’s hands), which decided the matter in favor of emigration. During a brief residence in the Netherlands on his way to America, Miller met the leader of the newly emerged Unitas Fratrum or Moravian Church — Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf — who made a deep impression on him.[13] Miller’s departure for America was delayed by hostilities between Great Britain and Spain, and thus Miller decided to spend the intervening time in France, especially Paris.[14] Even though Miller did not explicitly say so, he most likely worked as a journeyman printer in the cities he visited for a longer time, while learning the language and educating himself in their culture and politics. Although he was not blessed with the privileges of more elite contemporaries who spent years on a Grand Tour, Miller used his trade to continue his education in both worldly and religious matters — a kind of curriculum that later helped establish him as one of the foremost publishers and journalists of the American Revolution.

Miller returned to London in 1740 in order to pursue his plans for going to America once again. Notwithstanding his renewed interest in emigrating, Miller claimed that the “Lord decided that I had to wait.”[15] Potentially, Miller did not want to immigrate to America without some kind of community, or he simply lacked the funds for the passage without becoming an indentured servant upon arrival America. Or perhaps Miller was truly waiting for a sign that the journey would serve a larger spiritual purpose, besides fulfilling his personal or economic desires. Or, finally, he wanted to make the trip only if it would allow him to become an independent printer rather than serving other masters as a journeyman for the rest of his life. In any case, sometime in August 1741, Miller once more encountered Zinzendorf — a meeting that changed the rest of Miller’s life and intertwined his religious sensibilities and business ambitions in complex ways. We do not know what happened at this meeting, yet Miller soon thereafter sailed with Zinzendorf and a group of other Moravians to New York and traveled from there by land to Philadelphia.[16] With Miller’s passage to America and his newly-formed association with Zinzendorf and the Moravians, his transformation from a restless journeyman printer to the independent publisher of the most important German-language newspaper during the American Revolution had begun.

Business Development

After arriving in Philadelphia on November 29, 1741, Miller lost no time and began working as a journeyman for Benjamin Franklin on December 1.[17] The fact that Franklin hired Miller so quickly after his arrival in Philadelphia was no accident. After having failed with his first attempt to publish a newspaper for the fast-growing German population of Pennsylvania,Franklin strove continually to gain a foothold in this market and, following the establishment of Christoph Saur’s influential German-language printing press in 1738, to cut into the business of his most tenacious German rival.[18] Nevertheless, Miller did not work long for Franklin. Rather than any issues with his employment, the reasons for Miller leaving this position were his full initiation into the Moravian Church in Bethlehem on July 8, 1742, and his departure, on July 24, on a missionary journey, led by Zinzendorf, to the Delaware Indians.[19] Miller was chosen to keep the journal for the journey, which is inserted in his manuscript diary.[20]

Next to an array of fascinating religious, ethnographic, and geographic descriptions of the journey and time among the Delaware Indians, Miller’s journal reveals a few glimpses into a potential motivation for his sudden and full immersion in the affairs of the Moravian church. Without diminishing the sincerity of Miller’s religious feelings, several comments about Zinzendorf’s apparent plans to assign Miller the institution of a Moravian printing press demonstrate that religious and economic motives may have intermingled. During one of Zinzendorf’s ad hoc lectures, he noted that the Lord “always finds ways and means in the communities [Gemeinen] when people themselves can find none but nevertheless trust in him faithfully; and [Brother] Ludwig said as an application that in such a manner a few thousand taler might be found to establish a print shop, which could serve the community and its members in many ways.”[21] For Miller, Zinzendorf’s projection probably sounded like a promise to him in particular. It also offered Miller a seemingly perfect way to join his spiritual convictions with his professional ambitions: run his own printing business, while serving God and fellow believers.

The snag in Zinzendorf’s promise or proposal, however, came a few days later when the Count disclosed his plan for Miller to go back to the German states, marry — in a prearranged marriage — the well-to-do Moravian widow Johanna Dorothea Blauner, and thus gain access to the money needed to establish the said printing business.[22] In his research at the Moravian Archives at Herrnhut, Germany, scholar Donald Lineback uncovered evidence that Zinzendorf had already been making these plans before and during their missionary trip that summer but waited until their return to Bethlehem to draw Miller himself into the arrangement; potentially, Zinzendorf considered the intervening trip as a test of Miller’s reliability.[23] Whether we judge Zinzendorf’s plan as coldly calculating, in keeping with Moravian marriage practices, or a pious effort to have the lower means serve the higher, religious ends ultimately does not matter — Miller himself felt that he had been deceived.[24] He later inserted a terse note following his diary on Zinzendorf’s proposal: “All these highly touted and promised golden mountains in the Old and New Worlds — are they to bear no fruit? Kyrie eleison.”[25] While steering clear of a direct indictment of Zinzendorf, Miller’s comment hints at the possibility that the Moravian leader had perhaps already promised him a “golden” future as Moravian printer before leaving for America in 1741.

In any case, Zinzendorf’s plan not only dictated a marriage to a woman Miller had never met but also his return to Europe and thus a step back from his longstanding vision of going to America. Nevertheless, Miller acquiesced. He returned to the German states and, on June 18, 1743, married Johanna Dorothea Blauner shortly after seeing her for the first time.[26] Miller and Blauner (he continued to call her “Sister Blauner” rather than his wife throughout his diary) began a period of travel to other Moravian congregations and made preparations for fitting out their print shop in Marienborn, a smaller sister community to the nearby Herrnhaag, one of the newly established Moravian settlements and center of their spiritual life north of Frankfurt am Main.[27] Yet the establishment of his first printing enterprise was not only beset with “many difficulties,” but his marriage already seemed to produce “misery and woe.”[28] Miller listed in his diary 80 different titles he printed during his time in Marienborn. The subject matter of these imprints is dominated by Moravian devotional themes, and many titles were simply printed versions of Zinzendorf’s sermons and lectures. Clearly, Miller was not an independent publisher free to print whatever he wanted; his press was the public organ of the Moravian Church and, more specifically, the mouthpiece of its leader, Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf.[29] Though Miller did not explicitly state his dissatisfaction with his work, he left his press and wife in Marienborn in 1746, departing for a long period of travel — presumably as a missionary and representative of the Moravian church. After a period at the Moravian settlement at Zeist in the Netherlands, Miller traveled from 1747 to 1750 almost uninterruptedly through England, Scotland, and Ireland.[30] Perhaps he was searching for an affirmation of his faith or a different employment; perhaps he was also putting some distance between himself and a tragically unloved or unloving spouse. In any case, his professional and entrepreneurial career once again took a radical turn in 1751, when he left, once again for North America.[31]

Miller provided no explanation for his second departure for America, but the steps he took upon his return to Pennsylvania indicate that he resolved to try his hands, once more, at becoming a printer-publisher in the New World. After arriving in New York and a brief stop-over in Bethlehem, Miller immediately presented himself to “Mr. Franklin” again.[32] Miller’s ambitions and Franklin’s growing resolve to gain more influence over German-speaking readers in Pennsylvania converged, resulting in Franklin setting Miller up in a printing partnership with Samuel Holland in Lancaster, where, on January 13, 1752, they published the bilingual Lancastersche Zeitung/Lancaster Gazette.[33] Franklin’s own unsuccessful bilingual paper Die Hoch-Teutsche und Englische Zeitung / High-Dutch and English Gazette announced the Lancastersche Zeitung as its successor.[34] Franklin had designed his bilingual paper not only as an organ for opposing Saur’s political views and influence among German-speaking readers but also to Anglicize them, in other words, to teach them the English language and inculcate in them British civic and cultural sensibilities. In addition to their newspaper, Miller and Holland printed a circular by German Reformed ministers in Pennsylvania but apparently not much else.[35]

Miller withdrew from the partnership after only 12 issues of the paper and stopped working in Lancaster at the end of May 1752.[36] Possible reasons range from poor sales (Saur’s newspaper Pensylvanische Berichte completely dominated the German-language market at that time), to friction with his business partner, Samuel Holland, to quarrels with Franklin.[37] Between the end of his partnership with Holland and, once again, leaving America for Europe in October 1754, Miller did some occasional work for printers David Hall, William Bradford, and Benjamin Franklin, while traveling frequently throughout the middle colonies.[38] Miller’s renewed restlessness may also have been induced by the arrival of his wife in Pennsylvania. In her spiritual memoir, she professed her desire for Miller to live with her in Bethlehem as well as her consent to live with him in Philadelphia if necessary. Yet, according to “Sister Blauner,” Miller’s heart was neither with her, nor with the savior, nor with the Moravian Church. Apparently, she objected to Miller’s search for business success, commenting that she “could not, for the sake of temporal gain, go back into a world that [she] had left for Jesus’ sake.”[39] Miller, however, tried to walk a more difficult line between religion and business, never quite abandoning the former and yet not finding any solid footing or apparent contentment in the latter.

Despite his growing quarrels with the church and his continually frosty relationship with his wife, Miller traveled for the Brethren in Europe, covering much of present-day Germany, Holland, and England and occasionally doing some printing jobs.[40] In 1758, he set up his own printing press in St. Martin’s Lane in London. Little is known about how he acquired this press or about its productions; Miller himself noted somewhat dismissively that he printed “all kinds of trifles.”[41] Nevertheless, he later remarked in his 1779 farewell address to the readers of his Philadelphia newspaper Pennsylvanischer Staatsbote that he had been working in the newspaper business for almost 50 years, which apparently included a German-language paper he published for the Hannoverian and Hessian troops stationed in England during the Seven Years’ War.[42] In March 1760, however, Miller received “letters” as well as a considerable amount of money (£50 Sterling) from Philadelphia to enable him to move himself and his press to America.[43] Though Miller did not clearly disclose the source of the funds, it is likely that Franklin sponsored Miller’s return to Philadelphia. Living in London at the time, Franklin probably encountered Miller and learned of his plans to reestablish himself as a printer in America. Franklin wrote in a letter to his printing partner David Hall: “Miller is here, and has set up in St. Martin’s Lane. He talks of removing to Philadelphia however, but not before the [French and Indian] War is over. He has got a compleat [sic.] Printing House English and Dutch.”[44] Franklin still aimed at furthering German-language printing partnerships, and he probably hoped to gain a familiar ally in Miller.

In the summer of 1760, Miller (now 58 years old) left Europe for America one last time, beginning the most successful and influential chapter of his life and career. The absence of any entries in Miller’s diary from 1760 to 1770 demonstrates how much he immersed himself in his business as well as the social and political life of Pennsylvania and the larger Atlantic world.[45] Within little more than a year, Miller began publication of his newspaper, first named Der Wöchentliche Philadelphische Staatsbote (Weekly Philadelphia State-Courier) on January 18, 1762.[46] Eighteenth-century newspapers frequently used lengthy and descriptive titles to advertise the content and socio-political orientation of the paper. Miller’s subtitle read “Mit den neuesten Fremden und Einheimisch=Politischen Nachrichten; Samt den von Zeit zu Zeit in der Kirchen und Gelehrten Welt sich ereignenden Merkwürdigkeiten” (With the newest foreign and domestic political news, as well as from time to time occurring noteworthy events in the realms of church and learning). Miller thus signaled that he was publishing a paper for the German-speaking residents of Pennsylvania (and beyond) that self-consciously reported primarily political news and thus participated in the exchange of information in a rapidly-evolving Atlantic world characterized by imperial conflict, the movement of peoples, and, eventually, the formation of an independent and diverse American nation-state.

Miller’s preface to the first issue of his Staatsbote reveals his self-fashioning as a printer and newspaper publisher, casting his work as a service to God and fellow human beings. Justifying his motivation for publishing the paper, Miller cited the manifold requests and urgings of German-speaking residents of the region for a proper German(-language) weekly, his extensive experience as a printer, and a divine calling to this profession since his early youth. He thus defended and made explicit what his Moravian co-religionists had questioned — that his business aspirations were not only reconcilable with, but also part of, God’s plan. Rather than narrowly interpreting only religious news and devotional writings as a proper subject of the Christian printer and Christian reader, Miller adamantly claimed that the entire spectrum of knowledge and current events served the establishment of “Christian as well as civic virtues” (“die Christlichen sowol als Bürgerlichen Tugenden”). Overall, therefore, Miller developed and harnessed a Christian Enlightenment ethos that considered the expansion of knowledge and independent, critical thinking among his readers as a function of — rather than deviation from — a position of faith and piety. This emphasis also allowed Miller to circumvent the sectarian or denominational partisanship that riddled much of Pennsylvania’s colonial history. In support of this ethos, Miller furthermore pledged to avoid any kind of smut, gossip, and falsehoods. Readers could actually learn to interpret the will of God by “paying close attention to the signs of the times, that are made known therein [i.e. in his papers].”[47] Cleverly, Miller thus appealed to the religious sensibilities of his readership, while breaking down any resistance to news and newsprint concerned with secular events; he argued that faith and an active knowledge of and even participation in public affairs were perfectly reconcilable with a position of faith.

Miller’s introductory address further outlined the price and the conditions of subscription.[48] Like other colonial publishers, Miller sold his newspaper by subscription only. His Staatsbotebegan at a price of 6 shillings annually, which would have been affordable for the kind of customers that Franklin usually called the “middling people.”[49] Scholar Willi Paul Adams estimated that 6 shillings was roughly equivalent, in 1770, to the cost of “eighteen pounds of pork, or thirty-three pounds of rice, or forty pounds of medium quality flour,” while the “average daily wage for a laborer was about two shillings.”[50] Initially, Miller asked for three shillings up front and the remainder to be paid at the end of the year. Since many of his subscribers neglected to pay this balance, Miller changed the subscription policy in 1776. “He now required the sum for the whole year paid in advance, and he threatened to have the outstanding debts collected.”[51] In addition, the cost of a subscription increased to eight shillings in 1777 and three dollars in 1779.[52] The number of subscribers for most newspapers, however, was significantly lower than their actual circulation, in other words, the approximate number of readers the paper reached with each issue. Most printers usually publicized the larger circulation numbers, in part to attract more advertisers. While Saur’s newspaper at its most successful time in 1751 had a circulation of around 4,000, Miller’s circulation numbers ranged between 1,000 and 2,000.[53] Unlike their English-language equivalents (which served regional markets such as New England, or New York, or Pennsylvania), Miller and Saur attempted to reach German-speaking immigrants and residents throughout the British colonies in North America, from Nova Scotia in the North to Georgia in the South. Thus, while the circulation numbers may seem low, the great public influence of a paper like Miller’s Staatsbote rested on its geographical range and thus a unifying effect it achieved among German speakers throughout the colonies. Although newspapers were not accepted as mail, Miller and other newspaper publishers used a variety of private entrepreneurs — from storekeepers to innkeepers to artisans (and even sometimes clergy) — to act as agents in the far reaches of British North America.[54]

Income by subscription was boosted through the inclusion of paid advertisements, which covered a wide spectrum of interests, goods, and services: books for sale with the printer, real estate, livestock, runaway servants and slaves, consumer articles from Europe, and even the solicitation of votes during election season. In spite of Franklin’s protestations against the large number of German speakers in the colony and their supposedly detrimental effects on civic cohesion, English businesses advertised in Miller’s German-language paper just as readily as German ones, demonstrating that business easily transcended ethnic and linguistic barriers. As the multilingual editor of his own paper, Miller offered to translate “gratis” any advertisement of any length. In addition, the same advertisement was often included by English and German newspapers at the same time.[55]

Like almost every other printer in colonial America, Miller soon entered the market for one of the most popular print genres at the time — the almanac. Though the genre in general was often ridiculed for its frequently wrong weather predictions and perhaps trite instruction in popular wisdom, the almanac provided the isolated residents of the colonies with a way to keep track of time, find court sessions and church meeting times, plan their agricultural activities, and generally gain common cultural reference points with other settlers in the New World. Miller began his almanac for the year 1763 (printed in 1762) under the title Der Neueste, Verbessert- und Zuverläßige Americanische Caldender (the newest, improved, and reliable American calendar).[56] Clearly, the hyperbolic title was designed to carve out a niche in a somewhat crowded market, already occupied by the German-language almanacs published by rival Pennsylvania-German printers Christoph Saur and Anton Armbrüster. Miller’s newspaper and almanac together formed Miller’s serialized publications; in spite of their recurring appearance, they alone were probably insufficient for supplying the printer with income. Another source of revenue for Miller, as for most colonial printers, was the sale of stationary and other paper goods, household wares, and books — both imported and printed in America. Miller’s printing office on Second Street (and later Race Street opposite Moravian Alley) served as his bookstore as well. Indeed, Miller even printed a catalogue of “more than 700 mostly German books” that invited readers to browse and hopefully buy books in their area of interest.[57] Even though, as historian Gregg Roeber argues, Miller “helped to turn the book and print trade in a more secular direction,” he nevertheless included in his catalogue a majority of books with a religious orientation.[58]

Miller himself printed a fair amount of books, pamphlets, and broadsides every year, some of them original to Pennsylvania and others reprints of previously published works from Germany and other European countries. On the one hand, Miller’s own imprints continued to reflect and cater to the religious demands of the Pennsylvania German population. For example, Miller entered the most lucrative segment of the German-language book market by reprinting staples of the orthodox Protestant denominations (Lutheran and Reformed) — whose members now dominated German immigration to Pennsylvania — such as Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.[59] In spite of his personally tense relationship with the Moravians, Miller also received the annual assignment to print the “Lo[o]sungen” — daily texts or watchwords — of the church.[60] Overall, Miller’s religious publications signaled his independence from any of the denominations in Pennsylvania.

On the other hand, Miller increasingly turned toward publications that demonstrated and supported his German-speaking readership’s growing political enfranchisement and participation in public affairs. For example, Miller collaborated with the English-speaking Berks County attorney David Henderson in publishing a legal handbook, Der Landsmann Advocat, which was designed to explain to German-speakers the English legal system; importantly, Miller was the translator as well as the publisher, which signaled his evolving role in not only printing but also supplying the language that German-speakers needed to discuss issues of personal and public importance in a potentially strange environment. Like his newspaper, many secular books and pamphlets Miller issued throughout the 1760s and 1770s were, as — again — Gregg Roeber argues, dedicated “to the construction of public opinion.”[61] Miller thus issued a variety of publications on widely discussed political issues, such as the movement (advocated by Benjamin Franklin) to return Pennsylvania to royal government in 1764, the Stamp Act Crisis in 1765, and eventually, the American Revolution.[62]

Drawing from his own extensive experience traveling through the British Isles, as well as living and working in London, Miller aimed at introducing German residents and immigrants in North America to the inner workings as well as the geo-political connections of the British Empire. From the Stamp Act Crisis in 1765 all the way through the American Revolution, Miller actively supported the patriot cause, in fact playing “the part of the Whig activist.” During the Stamp Act Crisis, Miller discontinued regular issues of the Staatsbote in protest for three weeks, calling the Act “the most unconstitutional law these colonies have ever seen… plac[ing] too heavy a burden on the editor.”[63] After the start of the War of American Independence in 1775, Miller went to semi-weekly publication to accommodate the flood of news about the war, and he translated and published all proceedings of the First and Second Continental Congress in both his newspaper and individual pamphlets.[64] Most famously, Miller followed the events leading up to July 4, 1776, so closely that his newspaper earned the honor of first announcing — before any English-language newspaper — the signing of the Declaration of Independence in his paper on July 5, 1776. Miller published a German translation in his newspaper on July 9, which was most likely a close version of the translation produced by Carl Cist for a broadside edition issued a couple of days earlier.[65] The famous phrase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” was translated in both versions as “Leben, Freyheit und das Bestreben nach Glückseligkeit.”[66] As Gregg Roeber explains, Miller had been using the term “Glückseligkeit” — “civic, inward blessedness” — for several years in his publications leading up to the Revolution to express the way of life that first the Charter of Pennsylvania and eventually the Declaration of Independence promised residents and newcomers alike.[67]

Given his prominent role in supporting the Revolution, Miller was probably wise to flee the city when British troops under General William Howe occupied Philadelphia in September 1777.[68] Miller did not disclose where he spent the time away until his return in July 1778, but potentially the Moravians in Bethlehem gave their somewhat wayward member refuge. During his absence, Miller had left his housekeeper (supposedly at her own request) in charge of his home and print shop. When he returned, Miller found that his best press and most type had been stolen, with another press dismantled and rendered unusable. Miller soon issued a broadside (printed on another printer’s press) that accused the loyalist German printer Christoph Saur III of colluding with the British occupation forces to steal his press.[69] By that time, Saur had already left Philadelphia with the British troops for New York, while his father, Christoph Saur II, was arrested by Revolutionary militia, indicted for treason, and all his property sold at auction.[70] Miller pleaded with the public to assist him in finding his press and type. Apparently, none of the items were ever returned, but Miller resumed publication of his Staatsbote on August 5, 1778, noting that he was able to borrow a press and use whatever type he had left.[71] Nevertheless, Miller continued to print only in a limited capacity until he announced his retirement with the last publication of the Staatsbote on May 26, 1779.

Miller’s farewell address to his readers justified his desire to enjoy his “Sabbath’s rest” and explained the strain that the production of a newspaper, with set deadlines and publication dates, placed on a man of his age. In addition to giving a quick resume of his life-long dedication to the newspaper and publishing business, Miller pled the usefulness of newspapers in general. He concluded: “If my lowly newspaper work, dear and worthy fellow citizens, has earned your approbation, then it has been my particular pleasure; I do not presume the complete opposite but believe that many have been served by it.”[72] Even though his wife, Johanna Dorothea, had passed away in Bethlehem on April 6, 1779, Miller went to live at the Moravian settlement in the fall of 1780.[73] No details of Miller’s two short years in retirement at Bethlehem exist. Miller died on March 31, 1782 in Bethlehem and is buried in the Moravian cemetery (“Gottesacker” or God’s Acre). Miller and his wife Dorothea had no children; Miller left a large portion of his printing business to his former apprentices Steiner and Cist.

Social Status and Personality

Miller’s desire for travel, his embrace of different languages and cultures, his ability to learn new languages, and, therefore, his cosmopolitan attitude toward politics and public life in America all contributed to the character of his newspaper and publishing business. While his peripatetic life-style and hard-to-pin-down ideas made it difficult for Miller to conform to the communal culture of the Moravians as well as marriage to a member of the church, it nevertheless also benefited the church in its movement to become an international faith and send missionaries throughout Europe and around the world. Miller’s spiritual life was most certainly swept up in the Pietistic revival movements of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, which placed a strong emphasis on an inward, emotional, and personal relationship of the individual to the savior, Jesus Christ. Moravians (or Unitas Fratrum meaning “Unity of Brethren”) — a pre-reformation group begun by Czech reformer Jan Hus and reorganized under Count Zinzendorf in the 1720s — in particular stressed a heightened focus on Christ’s sacrifice and suffering. During the 1730s and 1740s (the time when Miller met Zinzendorf and become involved in the church), Moravians developed a “blood and wounds” theology that sought an affective appreciation of Christ’s intense love. In spite of the individualistic tendencies of the Moravian faith — eschewing many of the institutions and doctrines of orthodox Christianity — Zinzendorf and other Moravian leaders of the period fashioned communal settlements such as Herrnhut (close to his ancestral estate near Dresden), Herrnhag and Marienborn in Hesse, and eventually Bethlehem and other so-called pilgrim communities in the global mission field. An individual relationship to the redeemer, therefore, was thus — somewhat paradoxically — limited by a strict social control system.[74]

Miller was clearly attracted and, arguably, fully embraced the spiritual tenets of Moravian faith, while rejecting the authoritarian and perhaps overbearing nature of Zinzendorf’s leadership. Writingin hindsight about his first emotional awakening at age fourteen while taking the Lord’s Supper, Miller employed fully the peculiar Christo-centric vocabulary of the Moravians:

I saw the burden of my sins and my demise; this burden fell immediately off my neck. Then I truly ate Jesus’ flesh and drank his blood. I suddenly fell into a burning love with the little lamb and his wounds. I could ardently delight in him and frequently wanted to go to him. Yet I did not remain steady. His faithfulness, however, remained constant.[75]

Though Miller wavered in his dedication to the Moravian Church and its outward institutions, the religious hymns and poems he composed (and recorded in his diary) throughout his life nevertheless demonstrate his constancy in his pious dedication to his faith and to Christ. The tensions with and distance from his wife, therefore, probably stemmed from his unwillingness to submit to the church’s authority and jettison outward, worldly success.

Miller’s more worldly attitude and cosmopolitan perspective, likewise, also informed his critique of his main competitor and rival in Pennsylvania, Christoph Saur II. Miller had apparently become friends with the elder Christoph Saur — the founder of the highly successful Saur printing dynasty — during Miller’s first two periods of residence in Pennsylvania. Although Saur’s printing house has often been characterized as apolitical and staunchly religious (Saur was a separatist loosely affiliated with the church of the Dunkers or German Baptists), the elder Saur was actually an ardent advocate for the involvement of German immigrants in the political culture of colonial Pennsylvania — as long as they abided by his support of the Quakers and Pennsylvania’s founding principles of pacifism and liberty of conscience preserved in the memory of William Penn. Willi Paul Adams correctly assesses the elder Saur’s ideal of the printer-publisher and his relationship to politics, the state, and the public: “The same traits in his personality that led him to Separatism in religious life, led him to a skeptical view of secular claims of authority and institutions…. Sower was a journalist who used the modern instrument of the press to influence social conditions and to hold accountable those in position of power and authority.”[76] After his death, however, his son Christopher Saur, a Dunker bishop, turned increasingly away from political issues and his publications became less critically engaged. Thus, when Miller’s press, especially his newspaper, established itself as one of Saur’s main competitors, Miller fashioned himself and his products consciously as a more open, cosmopolitan, and critically engaged alternative to Saur’s supposed provincialism. Ultimately, though, their relationship remained civil until Saur’s own son, Christoph III, became an avowed loyalist, and Miller accused him of stealing his press and type.

Miller’s independence in religious matters and support of political figures such as Benjamin Franklin thus also earned him the trust of orthodox German ministers like Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, the founder of the Lutheran church in North America, who had waged a perpetual feud against Saur. Miller also called for relief efforts for impoverished German immigrants arriving in Philadelphia and supported the founding of the German Society of Pennsylvania in 1764.[77] Perhaps one of the best measures of the recognition and respect Miller garnered across linguistic and ethnic lines, however, is Franklin’s admiration for and appreciation of Miller and his publications. Whenever Franklin was living abroad for an extended period of time, he wrote home asking for Miller’s newspapers; in December 1767 Franklin wrote to his wife, Deborah , from London to send him “Miller’s German Newspapers for two or three Months back; and to be continued.” In June 1780, Franklin wrote to his son-in-law, Richard Bache, from his French residence in Passy: “When I was last in Philadelphia, Mr. Miller printed a little Book, containing a Number of Phrases of the Delaware Indian Language: I want a Copy of that. Send one by two or three different Ships, that I may be more sure of receiving them.”[78] When Bache sent Franklin the requested newspapers in 1780s, Miller was no longer publishing and had handed operations over to his former apprentices, Melchior Steiner and Carl Cist. Bache mentioned that “the old Gentleman has not done any Business for some time past; I saw him the other day, when he desired to be remembered to you.”[79] Clearly, Miller’s work had a reputation and appeal across linguistic and ethnic lines; thus, the statesman Franklin appreciated his former journeyman’s work for the unique perspective it gave him on a wide range of topics.

Immigrant Entrepreneurship

Henrich Miller distinguished himself from most German-speaking immigrants in colonial Pennsylvania through his extensive international experience and thus broad political perspective. German immigrants of the era were predominantly from the southwestern region of the German states that was plagued by famine, war, and land scarcity throughout much of the eighteenth century, and most of the immigrants — whether they left for religious or economic reasons — made a single journey to America and spent a more or less brief period in Philadelphia or Germantown before settling on a farmstead or beginning to work in a trade. Miller’s back and forth journeys to and from America, as well as his wide-ranging travels throughout Europe, however, allowed him to position Pennsylvanian conditions in a geopolitical framework. Potentially, as Gregg Roeber claims, Miller was “disappointed early on in the low level of awareness he sensed among his readership for the importance of international political affairs.”[80] Yet he quickly embraced his responsibility as publisher to educate German readers about the wider context in which their own lives in Pennsylvania and other colonies unfolded. Thus, Miller reported and printed little material that was germane only to German immigrants in North America; he addressed his readers not as an ethnic audience but as members of a transnational British empire. Though Miller “was aware of the special needs of the Germans as an immigrant group,” he “did not publish an émigré gazette full of news about home or a newsletter to inform the various German groups in North America, from Georgia to New York, about each other’s activities. He addressed his readers primarily as inhabitants of a British colony… whose daily lives, curiosity, and interests were determined by the fact that they lived in a colony in America.”[81]

Unlike Franklin, who feared that the influx of German-speaking immigrants would destroy the quintessentially English fabric of life in Pennsylvania and other British colonies in America, Miller recognized and addressed his readers as full members of the commonwealth, whose language and manners were no obstacle to their social and civic participation. Miller himself harnessed his linguistic skills in particular to become a cultural broker and mediator for his readers; for example, his newspaper announced regularly that Miller would not only translate ads but any article or material from English, French, and Dutch into German (and vice versa). His translating work also entailed explaining English political and legal terms to his readers and in many cases even finding the specific words and phrases in German that would enable his readers to lead a discussion about the developments of the time in their own language. Thus, Miller demonstrated that the full civic and social participation of German-speaking residents did not require a cultural and linguistic assimilation or denial of their background. In his farewell address to the readers of the Staatsbote, he encouraged other Germans to be proud of their heritage, while declaring his own allegiance to and even preference for America.[82] Miller thus anticipated an idea that still has not fully taken root in the U.S. debate about immigration — that immigrants can fully participate in the society and identify with the values and civic ideals of the United States, while retaining a pride for their language, culture, and heritage. As evidence, Miller published a German-language newspaper that was self-consciously American.


It almost seems as if Miller’s entire life before he began publishing his Philadelphia newspaper in 1762 was a long apprenticeship for the role he would play until his retirement in 1779. Even though he attempted to establish himself as printer and publisher in at least two European countries (Germany and Great Britain) and even twice in America, neither the place, nor the time, nor the conditions seemed right for what he was trying to accomplish. Or, perhaps, he needed the experience, the time, and the false starts to find out what his ideal of the press in a modern society should be. In the German states, his work had been hampered by severe restrictions to the freedom of the press and the demands of his tenure as Moravian Church printer in Marienborn. In Great Britain, Miller was perhaps freer to print what he wanted, yet he lacked a specific audience and was one among many, much more established publishers. Philadelphia, however, offered him the unique combination of freedom of speech, a growing and increasingly self-confident German-speaking readership, and a yet unformed civic and political culture that required a free press safeguarding the open exchange of ideas and information. During the crises preceding the Revolution, Miller reminded his readers of the crucial role that the press played in the struggle: “All rights and liberties the people still enjoy, they owe to the freedom of the press.”[83] Along the way, Miller transformed himself and his business from a mere printer to something akin to a media broker fulfilling at once the roles of publisher, editor, journalist, translator, and business manager. Miller’s press and the community he served grew in tandem, with an innovation in one driving an innovation or change in the other.

In the Staatsbote of May 31, 1774, Miller published an essay — “Von der allgemeinen Nutzbarkeit der Zeitungen” (“On the General Usefulness of Newspapers”) on the role of the press, specifically newspapers, in which he tried to capture and explain the developments he witnessed and shaped.[84] Previous generations, Miller contended, had limited abilities to change or expand their mode of life and, thus, they had little interest in reading and learning about arts and sciences. Once the migrations and wars of imperial expansion began, newspapers served the purpose of informing readers about political events, war and peace, and changes in the government of nations. Now, however, Miller felt, newspapers were entering another stage in their development and were thus assuming a different function. Miller first surveyed newspapers’ role of mediating the marketplace of a free society, advertising and announcing the sale of goods, services, and public events. This kind of information comprised a large portion of the content of newspapers and was thus the most important element for businesspeople (“Leute, die in Geschäften stehen”). Moreover, newspapers presented such a diversity of subjects (“eine Verschiedenheit von Sachen”) that either served the higher purpose of knowledge or “further sought to expand the connections among people” (“oder aber die Verknüpfungen unter den Menschen weiter auszudehnen suchen”). Miller here began to articulate in very distinct terms the role media play in developing a public sphere in a modern nation state — the evolution of a shared, public culture and creation of shared ties that did not rely on personal acquaintance but rather access to the information provided by outlets such as newspapers.

Finally, and most imposingly, Miller understood newspapers as the safeguards of people’s liberties. Drawing directly from his own Swiss heritage, Miller compared the papers to the beacons lit on Swiss mountaintops, warning residents of an impending danger. Newspapers, he concluded, call the inhabitants of a large empire to attention; they warn them of danger; urge them to vigilance and to destroy the trickery of their enemies through unity and steadfastness and to assert their freedom.”[85] At the end of his essay, Miller somewhat mellowed the pathos he created surrounding his own role and profession by reminding his readers that in spite of such worthy services many people still do not remember to pay for their newspapers. Miller considered himself a writer, a journalist, and even a civic leader, but as a printer and publisher he was also an entrepreneur who needed to make some money.


[1] “Philadelphia, July 5. Yesterday, the honorable Continental Congress declared the United Colonies free and independent States. The Declaration in English is now in the press; it is dated July 4th, 1776, and will appear in print today or tomorrow.”

[2] In his History of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1741-1892 (1903. New York: AMS Press, 1971), Joseph Mortimer Levering characterizes Miller as “[r]estless and fond of change” (74) and “eccentric” (373). This notion was repeated in the April 2008 newsletter of the Moravian Archives, This Month in Moravian History, entitled “Early Moravian Printing in America.” See below for an assessment of Miller’s religious affiliation.

[3] Baptismal Records of the “Evangelische Stadtkirche Waldeck.” The church was Lutheran at the time of Miller’s baptism. The Lutheran and Reformed denominations in Germany united in the early nineteenth century to form the Evangelical Church. Rhoden is today part of the city of Diemelstadt in northern Hessen, circa 50 km northwest of Kassel and 40 km southeast of Paderborn (Nordrhein-Westfalen) and has circa 2000 inhabitants. On the history of Waldeck, see Ulrich Bockshammer, Territorialgeschichte der Grafschaft Waldeck. Schriften des Hessischen Amts für Geschichtliche Landeskunde (Marburg: N. G. Elwert Verlag, 1958); Helga Zöttlein, Dynastie und Landesherrschaft: Politischer Wandel in der Grafschaft Waldeck zwischen 1680 und 1730 (Bad Arolsen: Waldeckischer Geschichtsverein, 2004).

[4] Marriage records of the “Kirchengemeinde der evangelischen Stadtkirche Waldeck.”

[5] Significantly, Müller did not call Alstädten his “Heimath.” Johann Heinrich Müller, “An Annotated Edition of the Diary of Johann Heinrich Müller (1702-1782), Pietist and Printer of the American Revolution.” Ed. Donald June Lineback (Dissertation, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1975), 1. For the original manuscript, see Heinrich Müller, “Notebook, containing a chronological account of his life and diary.” PP MH 1 (Papers of Heinrich Müller). Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Pa. Müller’s “notebook” is a compound of his diary, various religious poems composed by himself, an overview of books he printed in Marienborn, Germany, medical recipes, a list of passengers on board the Joseph (which he boarded on route to New York on April 15, 1751), and a list of addresses in America, Germany, and England. The diary is written in multiple languages, including German, Dutch, English, French, and some Latin and Greek.

[6] For an interpretation of Miller’s use of Swiss history, see A. G. Roeber, “Henry Miller’s ‘Staatsbote’: A Revolutionary Journalist’s Use of the Swiss Past.” Yearbook of German-American Studies 25 (1990): 57-76.

[7] Miller noted in his diary (2) that he left his parents to go to Basel around “Michaelis,” which is a church holiday celebrated on September 29. Beginning apprenticeships at age thirteen or fourteen was not at all uncommon for adolescent boys at the time. Benjamin Franklin was apprenticed to his brother James when he was twelve years old.

Johann Ludwig Brandmüller (d. 1751) and his brother Johann were continuing the printing and publishing business established by their father Johann Brandmüller, who began printing in Basel in 1675 and was, through his marriage to Salome König connected to the more famous König printing and publishing family. See Christoph Reske, Die Buchdrucker des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts im deutschen Sprachgebiet: auf der Grundlage des gleichnamigen Werkes von Josef Benzing (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 2007), 94.

[8] “Diary,” 3.

[9] Ibid., 3-4.

[10] Ibid., 3. “Von hier [Amsterdam] war ich vorhabens als ein Einsiedler nach America zu gehen; aber es gefiel dem HERRN nicht.”

[11] Ibid., 4. “Hie wolte ich nun beÿ meinen Eltern aushalten, so lange sie leben würden.” The verb “aushalten” connotes a certain sacrifice of personal desires for fulfilling his duty to his parents.

[12] Ibid., 4.

[13] Ibid., 6-7.

[14] Ibid., 8.

[15] Ibid., 8.

[16] Ibid., 8-9.

[17] Ibid., 9.

[18] Ralph Frasca, Benjamin Franklin’s Printing Network: Disseminating Virtue in Early America (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2006), 98-114. Franklin first tried his hand at a German-language newspaper in 1732, when he published, with the help of Louis Timothee, the Philadelphische Zeitung. However, the newspaper folded after only two issues, as it had received only fifty subscriptions (Frasca, 104). For all of Franklin’s German-language newspaper ventures, see Karl John Richard Arndt and May E. Olson, German-American Newspapers and Periodicals, 1732-1955: History and Bibliography (Heidelberg: Quelle & Meyer, 1961), 548-579. One of the reasons for this and subsequent failures of Franklin’s German-language ventures perhaps was his use of English (Roman) type, rather than the German-speaking population’s more familiar Gothic type but certainly also the fierce competition of Christoph Saur Sr. and Jr. who both had a better sensibility for the religious and cultural dispositions of German-speaking immigrants than the Anglo-American Franklin. Franklin had begun printing German-language books in 1730 for Conrad Beissel and the Ephrata Cloister. For German-language imprints published by Franklin and his German-language printing partners, see Karl J. R. Arndt and Reimer C. Eck, The First Century of German Language Printing in the United States, vol. 1 (Göttingen: Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, 1989).

[19] “Diary,” 9, 18.

[20] For the journal of the missionary journey, see “Diary,” 18-39.

[21] Ibid., “28-29.”

[22] Ibid., 41.

[23] Donald J. Lineback, “Johann Heinrich Müller: Printer, Moravian, Revolutionary.” Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society 23.1 (1977), 66-67. Lineback relied on excerpts from letters found at the Herrnhut Archives, Germany, under Rubric 14 A 16 III. Explicitly, Zinzendorf wrote: “Bishop Nitschmann will keep Sister Blauner for Muller, our printer in Philadelphia. It does not matter to me whether the marriage ceremony is held before or after my arrival [in Marienborn], only, that it should take place in the presence of the Lord. However, although Muller is a dear heart, he needs to be given general reminders. Her estate must help set up the printshop…. (qtd. in Lineback, ““Johann Heinrich Müller,” 67).

[24] In spite of Miller’s later resentment of the marriage arrangement and of Zinzendorf’s role in it, his case rather closely resembled Moravian marriage practices. As Paul Peucker explains, “initiative for a Moravian marriage did not come from couples themselves, nor from their families. Members of a Moravian community had to completely submit to the authority of the church, even in matters of marriage. The elders of the church decided which brother was a suitable candidate for marriage and they suggested a potential bride for him. In fact, Moravians believed it was Christ himself who brought the spouses together. After the elders agreed on the names of the couple, they had to put the matter to the Lot in order to seek Christ’s approval of their choice” (15). Moreover, eighteenth-century Moravian communities, such as Bethlehem, separated men and women in specific living quarter (“choirs”), and thus it was not unusual that future marriage partners, like Miller and Blauner, had little or no contact before their marriage. Nevertheless, both the brother and the sister had to agree on the prospective marriage and had the right to refuse — although, as Peucker adds, “the fact that a positive Lot had been obtained put considerable pressure on both parties to accept” (15). In Miller’s case, however, pressure was exerted directly through the important role that Miller and Blauner were going to play as printers of the Moravian community. See Peucker, “In the Blue Cabinet: Moravians, Marriage, and Sex.” Journal of Moravian History 10 (2011), 7-37. In examining the minutes of the General Conference of the Moravian Church at Marienborn, Lineback discovered, however, that the lot was cast concerning various elements of Miller’s union with Blauner, including when it should take place and whether Miller should order the type for the press before the wedding, but not on the essential element whether they should get married at all (Lineback, “Johann Heinrich Müller: Printer Moravian, Revolutionary,” 67-68). Apparently, it was Zinzendorf’s sole prerogative, since the arrangement promised a larger benefit to the Moravian church.

[25] “Diary,” 41 (translation by Lineback). “Sollen denn alle von diesem und jenem in der Alt- und neuen Welt versprochene güldene Berge, kein Körnchen ergeben? Kyrieleis / 18. Xbr. [December] 46.” The dating of this insertion seems to indicate that Miller perhaps gave Zinzendorf’s promise a more negative evaluation four years later and that he was not yet quite as disillusioned before getting married to Blauner.

[26] “Diary,” 41-46.

[27] Ibid., 46-48.

[28] Ibid., 48.

[29] For the list of Miller’s Marienborn imprints, see “Diary,” 48-52. Paul Peucker, archivist and librarian of the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and Rüdiger Kröger, archivist at the Moravian Archives in Herrnhut, Germany, are currently preparing an edited and annotated bibliography of Miller’s Marienborn imprints, to be published in the Journal of Moravian History.

[30] “Diary,” 54; 104-124. The intervening pages are taken up by a long verse history of the incarnation of Christ as well as a loose collection of various medical remedies.

[31] Miller departed, again in company of other Moravians, on the ship Joseph from Gravesend to New York on September 15, 1751. Interestingly, Miller’s diary does not list him among the Moravians, but with other passengers. “Diary,” 124-126.

[32] Ibid., 129.

[33] The subtitle of the paper was “Oder, Ein Kurzer Begriff Der Häuptsachlichsten Ausländisch- und Einheimischen Neuigkeiten / Or, A Compendium of the Most Material Foreign and Home News.” See Arndt and Olson, German-American Newspapers and Periodicals, 540. Franklin later mentioned in a letter to another potential printing partner that he had assisted Holland and Miller with setting up their press at Lancaster (“To Francis Childs. Passy, Feb. 8. 1785.” The Papers of Benjamin Franklin. Digital Edition. February 11, 2013).

[34] According to Arndt and Olson, Franklin’s Hoch Teutsche und Englische Zeitung/High-Dutch and English Gazette was the “[f]irst bi-lingual paper printed in America.” It was a bi-weekly and was printed in large quarto format (Arndt and Olson, 560). Frasca writes that “Franklin’s transparent attempt at cultural assimilation is evident in the newspaper’s state purpose: to publish ‘entertaining and useful Matters in both Languages, adapted to the Convenience of such as incline to learn either’” (106).

[35] Jacob Lischy, et. al. Circular-Schreiben der Vereinigten Reformirten Prediger in Pennsylvanien… (Lancaster: Müller and Holland, 1752).

[36] After Miller’s departure from the business, Samuel Holland continued to publish the paper until June 1753.

[37] In August and September 1754, Miller apparently tried to work for Franklin again, though Miller cryptically commented that on September 10th he “finished with Mr. Franklin, without having done anything” (“Septemb. Le 10. De ce mois fini avec Mr. Franklin, sans faire aucune chose.” “Diary,” 134). During this time, Miller also quartered several times with Christoph Saur in Germantown — perhaps helping out with some printing work — which would have been anathema to Saur’s bitter rival Franklin.

[38] “Diary,” 130-134.

[39] Quoted in “Diary,” ix. “Mein Herz war zu vest an den Heiland u. die Gemeine gebunden, ich konnte nur um zeitlichen Gewinns willen, nicht wieder in the Welt ziehen, die ich um Jesu willen verlassen hatte.” For the manuscript original, see “Lebenslauf of Johanna Dorothea Müller, nee Blauner (1702-1779),” MemBeth 0260, Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, PA.

[40] “Diary,” 135-139.

[41] Ibid., 139-140.

[42] Henrich Miller, “Allerseits Hochgeehrte Herren, Freunde und Landsleute.” Pennsylvanischer Staatsbote May 26, 1779.

[43] “Diary,” 140.

[44] Benjamin Franklin, “To David Hall. London June 10, 1758.” The Papers of Benjamin Franklin. Digital Edition. February 11, 2012. “[A] compleat Printing House English and Dutch” meant that Miller owned both English and German type, which was a key element for becoming a successful printer in the polyglot environment of colonial Pennsylvania.

[45] Miller’s new activities as a printer in Philadelphia also led to a further cooling of the relationship with the Moravian Church. The unknown writer of Miller’s official Moravian Lebenslauf (spiritual memoir) claims: “Es war wol kein Wunder, daβ er bei den mancherlei Zerstreuungen seines Gemüts, von der Bekanntschaft mit der Gemeine entfremdet und auch in seinem Herzen gegen die Brüder schüchtern wurde. Er blieb aber allemal ihr wahrer Freund, und diente wo er konnte mit Freuden” (qtd. in Lineback, ed., “An Annotated Edition,” ix). For the manuscript original, “Lebenslauf of Johann Heinrich Müller (1702-1782).” MemBeth 0269. Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Pa.

[46] Miller published a total of 920 issues of the paper, from January 18, 1762 to May 26, 1779. The paper was published weekly until May 16, 1775; semi-weekly from May 23, 1775 until July 23, 1776 (to keep up with the quickly developing events at the beginning of the Revolutionary War); and again weekly from July 30, 1776 to May 26, 1779. In 1768, the main title changed to Der Wöchentliche Pennsylvanische Staatsbote and in 1775 to Henrich Millers Pennsylvanischer Staatsbote. See Arndt and Olson, 567-568.

[47] Henrich Miller, “Günstiger Leser.” Der Wöchentliche Philadelphische Staatsbote, January 18, 1762. 1: “Als Leser dieser zu gewisser Zeit ordentlich herauskommender Bläter [sic.], können selbige bey uns den Zweck der Ehre Gottes erreichen, wenn wir aufmerksam sind auf die Zeichen der Zeiten, die uns dadurch kund gethan werden.”

[48] For circulation and pricing of Miller’s paper, also see Willi Paul Adams, “The Colonial German-Language Press and the American Revolution.” The Press & the American Revolution. Eds. Bernard Bailyn and John B. Hench (Worcester: American Antiquarian Society, 1980), 166-170.

[49] Benjamin Franklin,Plain Truth (Philadelphia: Franklin & Hall, 1747), 14.

[50] Adams, 170.

[51] Ibid., 167.

[52] Ibid., 169.

[53] Ibid., 167.

[54] Ibid., 167.

[55] Ibid., 170-171.

[56] See Arndt and Eck, 130.

[57] Henrich Miller, Catalogus von mehr als 700 meist Deutschen Büchern, Welche entweder zusammen oder einzeln zu Verkaufen sind (Philadelphia: Henrich Miller, 1769[?]). Robert E. Cazden dates Miller’s catalogue as published in 1772, following an ad referring to it in Miller’s Staatsbote for June 6 and 23, 1772. See Cazden, A Social History of the German Book Trade in America to the Civil War (Columbia, S.C.: Camden House, 1984), 9-11. Also see A. G. Roeber, “German and Dutch Books and Printing.” The Colonial Book in the Atlantic World. Eds. Hugh Amory and David D. Hall. Vol. 1, A History of the Book in America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007), 307-309. Roeber counted in Miller’s catalogue 157 books in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, 70 in Dutch, two in French and one in English, with the majority in German.

[58] Roeber, “German and Dutch Books,” 307.

[59] Martin Luther, Der Kleine Catechismus (Philadelphia: Henrich Miller, 1765).

[60] Moravian Church, Die Täglichen Loosungen der Brüder-Gemeine für das Jahr 1764 (Philadelphia: Henrich Miller, 1763).

[61] Roeber, “Henry Miller’s Staatsbote,” 61.

[62] For a bibliographic overview of Miller’s imprints, see Arndt and Eck, 1760-1779. For a specific discussion of Miller’s stance in this period, see Adams, 173-219.

[63] Quoted in Adams, 189.

[64] Adams, 204. See for example, Auszüge aus den Stimmungen und Verhandlungen des Americanischen Congresses vom Vesten Lande, gehalten zu Philadelphia, den 5ten September 1774 (Philadelphia: Miller, 1774).

[65] Although Willi Paul Adams claims that Miller produced his own translation of the Declaration (212), it is more likely that, as Roeber claims (“Henry Miller’s Staatsbote,” 57), Miller used the translation by his friend Carl Cist, who, with Melchior Steiner, published a German broadside of the Declaration sometime between July 6 and 8. Also see Karl J. R. Arndt, “The First German Broadside and Newspaper Printing of the American Declaration of Independence.” Pennsylvania Folklife 35.3 (1986): 98-107.

[66] See Staatsbote July 9, 1776; “Eine Erklärung…,” broadside (Philadelphia: Steiner & Cist, 1776).

[67] Roeber, “Henry Miller’s Staatsbote,” 57, 64.

[68] Adams, 216. For Miller’s own account, see Henrich Millers, des Buchdruckers in Philadelphia, nöthige Vorstellung an die Deutschen in Pennsylvanien, broadside (Philadelphia: Miller, 1778). Also see the summary of the events in James Owen Knauss, Social Conditions among the Pennsylvania Germans in the Eighteenth Century, as Revealed in German Newspapers Published in America (Lancaster: Pennsylvania German Society, 1922), 7.

[69] Miller, Henrich Millers … nöthige Vorstellung, 1.

[70] Adams, 215.

[71] Miller, Henrich Millers … nöthige Vorstellung, 1.

[72] Staatsbote, May 26, 1779. “Hat meine geringe Zeitungsarbeit, geehrte und wehrte Landsleute, Ihren Beyfall gehabt, wird es mir ein besonder Vergnügen seyn; ganz das Gegentheil vermuth’ ich nicht, sondern glaube es ist doch manchen damit gedient gewesen.”

[73] Lineback, “An Annotated Edition,” x.

[74] Much scholarship has recently been published on the Moravians, especially their “blood and wounds” theology and their unorthodox attitudes toward gender and sexuality. For excellent and highly readable recent treatments of the topic, see Craig D. Atwood, Community of the Cross: Moravian Piety in Colonial Bethlehem (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2004) and Aaron Spencer Fogleman, Jesus is Female: Moravians and the Challenge of Radical Religion in Early America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007).

[75] Miller, “Diary,” 2.

[76] Adams, 155.

[77] Birte Pfleger, Ethnicity Matters: A History of the German Society of Pennsylvania (Washington, D.C.: German Historical Institute, 2009), 7-8.

[78] Benjamin Franklin, “To Richard Bache. Passy, June 27. 1780.” The Papers of Benjamin Franklin. Digital Edition. February 13, 2013. Franklin renewed his request in a letter “To Sarah and Richard Bache,” sent on October 4, 1780: “Send me your German as well as English News-Papers. I want also for a Friend a little piece on the Delaware Indian Language, printed by Mr. Miller for the Moravians.” The book Franklin asked for was a linguistic handbook published by the Moravian missionary David Zeisberger, entitled Essay of a Delaware-Indian and English spelling-book, for the use of the schools of the Christian Indians on Muskingum River (Philadelphia: Miller, 1776).

[79] Richard Bache, “To Benjamin Franklin. Philadelphia, Octr. 30th. 1780.” The Papers of Benjamin Franklin. Digital Edition. February 13, 2013.

[80] Roeber, “Henry Miller’s Staatsbote,” 62.

[81] Adams, 174.

[82] Henrich Miller, “Allerseits Hochgeehrte Herren, Freunde und Landsleute.” Pennsylvanischer Staatsbote May 26, 1779.

[83] Qtd. and transl. Adams, 194; Staatsbote Apr. 24, 1770.

[84] Though Miller did not sign the piece, one can assume that he wrote it. The reference to Switzerland toward the end of the essay confirms Miller’s authorship.

[85] “[S]ie bringen plötzlich wie ein Lauf-feuer die Einwohner eines grossen Reichs zur Aufmerksamkeit; warnen sie vor der Gefahr, ermahnen sie auf ihrer Huth zu seyn, und durch Einigkeit und Standhaftigkeit die List ihrer Feinde zu vernichten, und ihrer Freyheit zu behaupten.”

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Henrich Miller
  • Coverage 1702-1782
  • Author
  • Website Name Immigrant Entrepreneurship
  • URL
  • Access Date May 26, 2024
  • Publisher German Historical Institute
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 22, 2018